Hope renews firefighting contract with volunteers

HOPE — A new contract that will provide the Hope Volunteer Fire Department with a 3 percent increase in funding has been approved by the Hope Town Council.

Originally, the department was prepared to request $87,000, Hope Fire Chief Randy Wood said. That would have been 12 percent more than the current $77,593 contract.

Extra money is needed to pay for insurance costs that have increased after the firefighters moved into their new fire station earlier this year at the corner of South and Aiken streets, Wood said.

But the biggest need for additional funds is tied to a national mandate calling for replacing protective clothing and gear used by each firefighter every 10 years, Wood said.

In response, council president Clyde Compton said the 2018 town budget planned for a 2 percent increase to the firefighters.

“To extend that any more, we would have to take away money from somebody else, and I don’t think that’s fair,” Compton said.

However, councilman Ohmer Miller made the motion that the new contract be approved at $80,000 — $856 more than what had already been approved. After Miller’s motion was seconded by Nellie Meek, the council unanimously voted in favor of the motion.

Wood says his department plans to ask the Hawcreek Township Trustee’s office for a similar increase in financial support.

During the discussion, Compton reminded Wood that the council had requested an appraisal on a fire department-owned lot next to the town hall nine months ago, but has not received a response.

In addition, the fire chief was asked why the vacant former fire station on Harrison Street has not been placed on the market.

In both cases, Wood said he still is awaiting appraisals.

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Mark Webber is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at mwebber@therepublic.com or 812-379-5636.